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Intense terahertz pulses cause both DNA damage and repair

March 15, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

Terahertz (THz) radiation, a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that occupies the middle ground between microwaves and infrared light, is rapidly finding important uses in medical diagnostics. Now, new research performed on lab-grown human skin suggests that short but powerful bursts of THz radiation may both cause DNA damage and increase the production of proteins that help the body fight cancer. 

New gel material releases drug under patient’s pressure

March 14, 2013 10:39 am | News | Comments

A research team at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan has recently developed a gel material which is capable of releasing drugs in response to pressure applied by the patient. Three fingers applying force to the site of the gel produces an effect for up to three days. They built the new drug from two materials already used in pharmaceuticals: a saccharide and a natural component of algae.

Scientists use DNA to create nano-encrypted Morse code

March 12, 2013 3:17 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have devised a dynamic and reversible way to assemble nanoscale structures and have used it to encrypt a Morse code message. The team started with a template of DNA origami―multiple strands of DNA woven into a tile. They “wrote” their message in the DNA template by attaching biotin-bound DNA strands to specific locations on the tiles that would light up as dots or dashes. 

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Biological wires carry electricity thanks to special amino acids

March 12, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

In nature, the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens uses a type of natural nanowire, called pili, to transport electrons to remote iron particles or other microbes. The benefits of these wires could also be harnessed by humans for use in fuel cells or bioelectronics.  A new study reveals that a core of aromatic amino acids are required to turn these hair-like appendages into functioning electron-carrying biological wires.

Tiny piece of RNA keeps “clock” running in early life

March 11, 2013 4:12 pm | News | Comments

New research shows that a tiny piece of RNA has an essential role in ensuring that embryonic tissue segments form properly. The study, conducted in chicken embryos, determined that this piece of RNA regulates cyclical gene activity that defines the timing of the formation of tissue segments that later become muscle and vertebrae.

RTI International’s 3D heart catheter receives innovation award

March 11, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

An RTI International-developed prototype catheter  that can generate live, streaming 3D ultrasound images from inside the heart has recently received a Cardiovascular Innovation Award at the 2013 Cardiovascular Research Technologies Annual Symposium. Called a live volumetric imaging intracardiac catheter, the technology has the potential to improve catheter-based heart procedures.

Stroke prevention device misses key goal in study

March 11, 2013 9:16 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer | News | Comments

The future is unclear for a promising heart device aimed at preventing strokes in people at high risk of them because of an irregular heartbeat. Early results from a key study of Boston Scientific Corp.'s Watchman device suggested it is safer than previous testing found, but may not be better than a drug that is used now for preventing strokes, heart-related deaths and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation over the long term.

Study finds length of DNA strands can predict life expectancy

March 11, 2013 8:46 am | News | Comments

Can the length of strands of DNA in patients with heart disease predict their life expectancy? Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, who studied the DNA of more than 3,500 patients with heart disease, say yes it can.

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Scientists manipulate protein activity with newly found enzymes

March 11, 2013 8:43 am | News | Comments

Protein activity is strictly regulated. Incorrect or poor protein regulation can lead to uncontrolled growth and thus cancer or chronic inflammation. Researchers in Switzerland have identified enzymes that can regulate the activity of medically important proteins. Their discovery enables these proteins to be manipulated very selectively, opening up new treatment methods.

Scientists improve transgenic “Enviropigs”

March 8, 2013 3:48 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Europe has developed a new line of transgenic "Enviropigs." Enviropigs have genetically modified salivary glands, which help them digest phosphorus in feedstuffs and reduce phosphorus pollution in the environment. After developing the initial line of Enviropigs, researchers found that the line had certain genes that could be unstable. The new line of pigs is called the Cassie line, and it is known for passing genes on more reliably.

Rapid cancer detection built on a chip

March 8, 2013 3:39 pm | News | Comments

Early detection is vital for the effective treatment of cancer. In many cases, tell-tale biomarkers are present in the bloodstream long before outward symptoms become apparent. The development of an inexpensive and rapid point-of-care diagnostic test capable of spotting such early biomarkers of disease could save many lives. A research team in Japan working on developing such a test has now produced their most sensitive microRNA detector yet.

Nanoparticles loaded with bee venom kill HIV

March 8, 2013 3:22 pm | by Julia Evangelou Strait, WUSTL | News | Comments

According to findings by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while leaving surrounding cells unharmed. The finding is an important step toward developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Scientists find previously unknown purpose for cellular “gateway”

March 7, 2013 3:46 pm | News | Comments

A research team with members and Canada and the United States have discovered that a "gateway" known to control the movement of molecules in and out of a cell's nucleus appears to play another critically important role. Its second job is the ability to control the structure of chromosomes and the DNA linked to those chromosomes. This impacts what genes produce or express.

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Biologists produce rainbow-colored algae

March 7, 2013 3:30 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have engineered a green alga used commonly in laboratories, <em>Chlamydomonas reinhardtii</em>, into a rainbow of different colors by producing six different colored fluorescent proteins in the algae cells. Tagging algae with different kinds of fluorescent proteins could help sort different kinds of cells, allow scientists to view cellular structures like the cytoskeleton and flagella, or even to create “fusion proteins”.

Circuitry of cells involved in immunity, autoimmune diseases exposed

March 7, 2013 10:09 am | by Haley Bridger, Broad Communications | News | Comments

New work from the Broad Institute and partnering organizations has expanded the understanding of how one type of immune cell—known as a T helper 17 or Th17 cell—develops, and how its growth influences the development of immune responses. By figuring out how these cells are “wired,” the researchers make a surprising connection between autoimmunity and salt consumption.

Thermally controlled nanopores may allow detailed blood analysis

March 7, 2013 10:02 am | News | Comments

Tiny biomolecular chambers called nanopores that can be selectively heated may help doctors diagnose disease more effectively if recent research by a team at NIST proves effective. The team has pioneered work on the use of nanopores for the detection and identification of a wide range of molecules, including DNA. These nanopores mimic ion channels, the gateways by which a cell admits and expels materials.

Flip of a single molecular switch makes an old brain young

March 6, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains are more malleable or plastic. The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability. Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.

Scientists focus on another Sandy loss: lab mice

March 6, 2013 2:46 pm | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

It was one of the most dramatic stories from Superstorm Sandy: More than 300 patients including tiny babies safely removed from a flooded New York hospital that lost power. But in a research building at the complex, where thousands of lab mice were kept, the story had a sadder ending. A storm surge into the basement swamped some 7,000 cages of mice used for studying cancer, diabetes, brain development and other health issues. About 50 scientists at the Langone Medical Center are going through the slow process of replacing them

New tool better estimates pandemic threats

March 6, 2013 11:12 am | News | Comments

A simple new method better assesses the risks posed by emerging zoonotic viruses Researchers show that the new tool can produce transmissibility estimates for swine flu, allowing researchers to better evaluate the possible pandemic threat posed by this virus. ntil now, estimates of transmissibility were derived from detailed outbreak investigations, which are resource intensive and subject to selection bias.

Traceable nanoparticles may be the next weapon in cancer treatment

March 5, 2013 8:58 am | by Karin Söderlund Leifler and Peter Larsson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Therapeutic and diagnostic in function, so-called “theranostic” particles have been developed by a team in Sweden. These small particles can be loaded with medicine and could be a future weapon for cancer treatment. Because the particles can be seen in magnetic resonance images, they are traceable.

International consortium builds “Google Map” of human metabolism

March 4, 2013 1:28 pm | News | Comments

Building on earlier pioneering work by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, an international consortium of university researchers has produced the most comprehensive virtual reconstruction of human metabolism to date. Scientists could use the model, known as Recon 2, to identify causes of and new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and even psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

Nanodiamonds being perfected for use in biomedical applications

March 4, 2013 8:29 am | News | Comments

Scientists in Australia are perfecting a technique that may help see nanodiamonds used in biomedical applications. They have been processing the raw diamonds so that they might be used as a tag for biological molecules and as a probe for single-molecule interactions. With the help of an international team, these diamonds have recently been optically trapped and manipulated in three dimensions—the first time this has been achieved.

Nanogels offer new way to attack lupus

March 1, 2013 3:22 pm | by Eric Gershon, Yale University | News | Comments

In systemic lupus erythematosus, the body attacks itself for largely mysterious reasons, leading to serious tissue inflammation and organ damage. Current drug treatments address symptoms only and can require life-long daily use at toxic doses. Now, scientists at Yale University have designed and tested a drug delivery system that uses biodegradable nanoparticles to deliver low drug doses. The method shows early promise for improved treatment of lupus and other chronic, uncured autoimmune diseases.

Diagnostic cocktail: Pour, shake and stir

March 1, 2013 10:01 am | News | Comments

A homebrewed diagnostic mixture containing a single drop of blood, a dribble of water, and a dose of DNA powder with gold particles could mean rapid diagnosis and treatment of the world's leading diseases in the near future. The cocktail diagnostic is being developed at the University of Toronto and it involves the same technology used in over-the-counter pregnancy tests.

Team develops trackable drug-filled nanoparticles

March 1, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

Many researchers have been investigating the potential of tiny particles filled with drugs to treat cancer. A team of scientists in Sweden have recently made an advance in this area of research by developing “theranostic” nanoparticles, which combine therapy and diagnostics in the same nanomaterial. They are trackable through magnetic resonance.

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